“Last-mile connectivity will see growth in long term”

Updated: Jan 29 2002, 05:30am hrs
Coral Telecom recently launched its flagship product Iris IVDX (integrated voice and data exchange) series of high-end EPBX systems. Iris is an indigenously designed switch capable of simultaneously switching voice and data, and is the first of its kind switch in the market. In an exclusive interview with Neeraja Kumar of The Financial Express Coral Telecom managing director Rajesh Tuli talks about the rapidly expanding switching equipment industry and the future plans of his company. Excerpts:

What are the strategic areas for Coral Telecom in the telecommunication industry

Our company manufactures and supplies integrated switches for corporate, small office, home office (Soho), and local community applications. Our focus area is switching for both voice and data communication. Coral is the only company in India that manufactures an indigenously designed switch that allows for voice as well as data switching capabilities, whereas most of the other telecom equipment vendors supply either data or voice switching equipment as a stand-alone system.

Coral is a totally technology driven company and has 13 branches in different cities of India along with an overseas setup in Dubai. We have a dedicated team of 320 professionals including R&D, sales and marketing. We have a strategic alliance with Kirk Telecom, a Denmark-based telecom equipment and solution provider and another Israeli company called ECI telecom, for high-end digital switches. Our clients are mostly from the government sector like railways, defence, Naval Commands, and ISRO. As regards our future plans, we are planning to come up with products for different segments like hotels, housing societies, corporate complex, multiplexes, etc. Our basic target area is group private automated exchange (GPAX).

What is the future of integrated switches in the telecom sector

There is lot of scope for development through R&D. For the post-liberalisation period, the focus is primarily on the core network and last-mile connectivity has taken a back seat, whereas this is the area that is headed for growth in the long term. The private operators should think of the ways and means to address the last-mile connectivity hiccups. This is the core area where revenue potential lies.

An enterprise user will always opt for switches that have both data and voice switching capabilities and therefore it is the key area for providing solutions. We felt that, there was an urgent need for providing high-speed data connectivity with a speed upward of 1.2 mpbs. While designing our products through research and development activities, we also look for the future capacity needs. Our switches support both forward and backward mode of ISDN connectivity. We also support DSL to all different forms like ADSL, Spilttered, and Glite.

During this year voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) will become legal. In this context what would be role with VoIP for Coral Telecom

VoIP will become very important for the corporate world in the years to come. We have developed an Internet IP gateway, whereby one can route the calls through IP channels. VoIP requires a separate network, with a PC and IP phones, which will cost around Rs 20,000. We are in the process of providing integrated solutions for data and voice applications called integrated voice and data server. With this a person using an analog phone can transfer voice through IP channels. Leased connectivity from the ISP will cut down costs for corporate as well as other users. The need of the hour is to revamp the voice and data network. Our basic aim is to provide last-mile connectivity without any hiccups.

What are the solutions to the last-mile connectivity problems

As of now, there are many technologies that address last-mile connectivity issue like wireless Internet, optical LAN/Ethernet, free space optics (FSO), etc. At present FSO is not in operation in India, and it will take a minimum of another three years from now. All these technologies effectively address the last-mile connectivity hiccups. But, then there is lack of simultaneous switching of voice and data. Once this area is clear, it will be possible to harness the potential of the huge enterprise market.